Subject: Rights lawyer doubts independent of ETimor Investigation Team

Rights lawyer doubts independent of ETimor Investigation Team

Suara Pembaruan, 20 April 2000 Summarised

Lawyer doubts independence of Timor Investigation Team

One of Indonesia's foremost human rights lawyers has cast doubt on the independence of the investigation team set up by the Attorney-General's office to prepare cases of gross violations of human rights in East Timor.

The 64-member team was appointed Wednesday by the Attorney-General Marzuki Darusman. Luhut himself has been named as a member of the 15-member team of experts to advise and monitor the investigations.

His concern arises from the inclusion of personnel from the National Police and the Military Police on the team of investigators. How can the team be genuinely independent if it includes members who are from the very bodies some of whose members will be under investigation, he asked.

'Generally speaking, I believe that the team will not be able to act independently. Will those members be able to act independently of the organs to which they are attached. It must be abundantly clear that the investigation team should conduct its work in accord with universal judicial principles and conform with international standards.'

He went on to say that if the results of their investigations fail to meet up with international standards, their work will have to be discarded, with the consequence that the matter is taken over by an international tribunal.

He suggested that a strict code of ethics should be drafted for the team incorporating the principles of impartiality,avoiding personal interests, honest and objectivity. The members should also be required to give firm undertakings not to leak information or disrupt the investigations.

Marzuki Darusman on the other hand said that the members of the team were expected not to carry their institutional baggage with them but should uphold the principle of autonomy. 'I very much hope that they will function independently. In any case, the team's work will be supervised by the team of experts,' he said.

The investigation is expected to start summoning persons suspected of committed human rights abuses in East Timor in the next week or two.

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